March 2024 Newsletter

GM-Free Australia Alliance advocates for food and farming free fromGenetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). 
Thank you for opening this email and supporting GM-Free in Australia.Welcome to the March 2024 newsletter! This month we find out that genetically modified bananas have been approved for commercial release, altered to resist a fungal disease. Then internationally, this month we also examine what salmon are being fed and if it is GM-Free. We also see that the U.S. and Canada want to force Mexico to open its market to all genetically modified foods and seeds.Say NO to GMOs by sending us photos of the labels of your favourite GM-Free Foods to add to our list at truefood@gmfreeaustralia.org.auPlease DonateHot topicsURGENT DEADLINE: 15/3/24: FSANZ A1261 – seeks 50% increase in radiation energy applied to fresh fruits and veg;15/3/24: Reducing child exposure to junk food ads – FSANZ in bed with the producers of ultra-processed foods so not much likely to happen. We suggest that the 5 star health rating on processed foods be mandatory and junk that cannot score a 4 or 5 not be allowed to advertise at sports, on TV and the internet;22/3/24: FSANZ A1283 – new GMO as the source of ‘human identical’ milk oligosaccharide in infant formula;4/4/24: FSANZ Act Review – prioritises food exports and deregulation, not feeding us;10/4/24: OGTR DIR203 Monsanto GM cotton field trials – herbicide tolerant and insect resistant;4/24: Augmented Humans Conference in Melbourne at Monash Uni. Eugenic manipulation of future generations!! (GeneEthics, 2024)References(GeneEthics, 2024) Hot TopicsGenetically modified banana approved by regulators for first time“A genetically modified banana has been approved for growing on farms for the first time. Regulators in Australia and New Zealand have given the go-ahead to a strain of the Cavendish banana altered to be resistant to a devastating fungal disease that has spread to many countries worldwide.” (Le Page, 2024)“The licence holder has indicated they do not intend the GM banana plants to replace the current Cavendish banana cultivars growing in Australia but rather to provide a safety net to the Australian banana industry should it be heavily impacted by Panama disease.” (Australian Government, 2024)“On 16 February, Food Standards Australia New Zealand approved it as a food, concluding that it is as safe and nutritious as conventional bananas. The food ministers of Australia and New Zealand can request a review of the decision in the next 60 days. If they don’t, the approval will be final.” (Le Page, 2024)Image of bananas growing on trees Photograph: https://designerplants.com.au “The GM banana plants may be grown in all banana growing areas in Australia, subject to restrictions in some Australian States and Territories for marketing reasons. The Regulator has not imposed any specific measures to manage risk, as the risk assessment concluded that this release of GM banana plants poses negligible risk to the health and safety of people or the environment.” (ISAAA, 2024)“General conditions have been imposed to ensure that there is ongoing oversight of the release.” (Australian Government, 2024)It’s clear that there have been no specific restrictions so we are concerned that they can say that there is negligible risk when this has not been tested.This is not sufficient when there has been no cross-checks and balances yet this has been further endorsed by the ABC. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-16/australia-approves-first-genetically-modified-banana-panama-tr4/103476986References(Australian Government. Department of Health and Aged Care. Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, 16 February 2024) DIR 199. Commercial release of banana genetically modified for resistance to Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4). DIR 199 | Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (ogtr.gov.au)(International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), 21 February 2024) Australia Approves Commercial Planting of GM Banana. Biotech Updates. Australia Approves Commercial Planting of GM Banana- Crop Biotech Update (February 21, 2024) | Crop Biotech Update – ISAAA.org(Le page, Michael, 16 February 2024) Genetically modified banana approved by regulators for first time. NewScientist Genetically modified banana approved by regulators for first time | New Scientist“GM “fishy” canola to feed farmed salmon is misleadingly claimed as sustainable part 1“The GM canola, newly approved in Norway to feed farmed salmon, is engineered to be grown with an EU-banned herbicide and contains oils that caused deformities in butterflies. Report: Claire RobinsonThe Norwegian Food Safety Authority has approved a genetically modified canola oil for use in feed for farmed salmon. The canola was genetically engineered to contain healthy omega-3 long chain fatty acids.

The GM canola, called NS-B50027-4, was developed as a land-based source of marine (“fishy”) fatty acids. This is being touted as an environmental benefit, since farmed salmon are normally fed on fish oil to boost their omega-3 levels. Wild fish get their omega-3 from eating algae. But wild fish stocks are depleted and the price of fish oil has risen, meaning that the amount of fish oil in salmon feed has decreased markedly in recent years.

The “Aquaterra” omega-3 canola oil is being promoted as sustainable in the media by Nofima, a Norwegian research institute that conducts research and development for the aquaculture industry. Its scientists carried out research on Aquaterra omega-3 canola oil. They concluded that when salmon have a diet containing the oil, they get more omega-3 in their flesh, better pigmentation and fewer dark spots – qualities designed to appeal to the health-conscious consumer.” (Robinson, 2024)Image of blue and yellow fish plus rape canola Photograph: GMWatchWe have confirmed that Tassal salmon one of Australia’s biggest salmon farm producers feed ingredients that GMO DNA Free. Growth hormones are also not used.There is also genetically modified salmon. “In 2015, genetically modified AquaAdvantage salmon became the first GMO animal approved for human consumption in the U.S. and Canada. It was created through combining genetic material from a Chinook salmon and an eel-like ocean pout to the Atlantic salmon. The result is a fast-growing, entirely new fish that has since been raised in inland farms in Canada’s Prince Edward Island and Indiana— and served to untold numbers of unsuspecting consumers (GMO labeling was not required in the U.S. until 2022, and restaurants are still exempt from labeling laws).” (Waddell, 2023)“Unsurprisingly, GMO salmon has faced a lot of backlash, including a growing campaign by Indigenous, environmental and grassroots activists under the banner #BlockCorporateSalmon.Genetically modified salmon pose an existential threat to wild salmon populations. In the event of an escape (and farmed salmon are infamous for escaping), the GMOs could outperform wild salmon in their competition for crucial resources, gobbling up food to support their abnormal growth. While the majority of GMO salmon are infertile, a small but statistically significant number of them could conceivably breed with native fish populations, causing irreparable genetic contamination in the threatened species.” (Waddell, 2023)We are strongly encouraging Australian producers to keep their produce and what they feed them GMO free for these and other for important biological and environmental reasons.We have confirmed that Tassal’s salmon is not genetically modified. Agrios Wild Alaskan Red Sockeye Salmon Skin On 220g and Rafferty’s Garden 6+ month baby food: Salmon & pumpkin risotto are also not genetically modified. It has also been endorsed by the Marine Stewardship Board so using safe and environmentally friendly ways of catching the fish.References(Robinson, Claire, 10 January 2024) GM “fishy” canola to feed farmed salmon is misleadingly claimed as sustainable. GMWatch. GM “fishy” canola to feed farmed salmon is misleadingly claimed as sustainable (gmwatch.org)(Waddell, Melissa, 30 January 2023) 3 Crucial reasons to block GMO salmon. Non GMO Project https://www.nongmoproject.org/blog/3-crucial-reasons-to-block-gmo-salmon/Please DonateGM corn part 1“A Presidential decree has banned the use of genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) corn for food in Mexico but the governments of the United States and Canada are using the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement (USMCA) to challenge Mexico’s actions.
 
The purpose of Mexico’s restrictions on GM corn is to safeguard the integrity of native corn from GM contamination and to protect human health. The purpose of the U.S. and Canadian challenge is to defend the interests of the biotechnology industry.
 
The U.S. and Canada want to force Mexico to open its market to all genetically modified foods and seeds. Canada is supporting the U.S. challenge (as a third party in the dispute) even though Canada does not export any corn to Mexico.
 
Mexico has the right to restrict the use of GM corn. The U.S. argues that Mexico’s actions are not based on scientific principles, but the government has sufficient science to justify its precautionary policies.” (Sharratt, 2024) Image of tortillas Photograph: IATP“The Mexican government’s formal response to the United States is due out this week in the long-running U.S. trade dispute seeking to stop Mexico’s restrictions on GM corn use in tortillas. The U.S. has blithely claimed from the start that Mexico’s policies are not based on science, but look for a knockout blow from the Mexican government, which has carried out extensive research on the latest evidence of potential harm to human health and the environment from exposure to GM corn and residues of the herbicide glyphosate.Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), offers a preview in her article for Food Tank and the Mexican publication Pié de Página. Based on CBAN’s comments on the case, published after the trade panel in the dispute disinvited Canadian groups from submitting, she summarizes the ample scientific evidence that some GM corn varieties, specifically Bt corn engineered to kill insect pests, may pose threats to the digestive tracts of other animals, including mammals. She also notes the evidence of risks from even low-level exposures to glyphosate, which is found in residues on GM corn engineered to tolerate glyphosate applications.”“As Sharratt shows, and as Mexico will likely confirm in its submission this week, precaution is indeed warranted by the science.” (Wise, 2024)We support Mexico’s push to maintain a GMO free market and we will keep you updated on this story as it unfolds. We have confirmed that La Tortilleria Corn Tortillas, Cornitos Nacho Crisps Sea Salt, Cornitos Nacho Crisps Cheese and Herbs, Cornitos Nacho Crisps Cheesy Sour Cream and Onion, Rafferty’s Garden 8+ month baby food: Chickpea, corn & carrot, Rafferty’s Garden 12+ month Baby food: Beef, quinoa, tomato & corn and Watersteps Organic Taco Shells are GM-Free.References(Sharratt, Lucy, 5 March 2024) Mexico’s precaution on GM corn safety is justified. Agribusiness, Family farmers and the Future of Food. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Food Tank Mexico’s Precaution on GM Corn Safety Is Justified – Food Tank(Wise, Timothy A., accessed 6 March 2024) Science Supports Mexico’s GM Corn Restrictions. Agribusiness, Family farmers and the Future of Food. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Food tank Science justifies precaution for Mexico GM corn (mailchi.mp)Join Our MissionOur mission is to educate the public through the GM-Free True Food Guide to empower all Australians to make healthy GM-Free food choices. We rely solely on the generous donations of people like you, who care about the health and sovereignty of the food that you and your family eat.Help the GM-Free Australia Alliance, help keep GM-Free foods out of the food supply, improve health by remaining GM-Free, and especially feed our children and babies with the best GM-Free food and produce.PLEASE DONATE TO THE GM-FREE TRUE FOOD GUIDE! It’s been a journey over the past 17 years – educating and advocating for GM-Free farms, foods and futures. We’ve influenced public sentiment to demand labelling of GMOs, voice concerns and help grow awareness of GM-Free products all over Australia. To join or Volunteer for our cause, please visit our website to get involved. Follow our facebook pages, GM-Free Australia Alliance and True Food Network for the latest news, info and campaigns.In our next Newsletter, look out for more information on the True Food Guide and the future of food.Our team at GM-Free Australia Alliance Inc. work tirelessly on educating people about the dangers of GMOs, including the next generation of GMOs 2.0, GENE EDITING. We are strongly advocating for GMO labelling through the updating of the GM-Free True Food Guide.TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS BY CREDIT CARDPlease Give GenerouslyClick this link:Donate to support our work with the GM Free Australia Alliance – Friends of the Earth Australia (foe.org.au)TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONSMake a Tax-Deductible bank transfer to:Bank Australia
A/c: Friends of the Earth Australia
BSB: 313-140
A/c Number: 12060185Please reference “GMFAA” and ask finance@foe.org.au for a receipt.Send a Tax-Deductible cheque or money order to:Friends of the Earth
PO Box 222
FITZROY  VIC  3065Please reference: GM-Free Australia Alliance or True Food Guide.NON-TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONSMake a Non-Tax Deductible Donation by direct transfer to our account:GM-Free Australia Alliance Inc.Bendigo Bank
BSB: 633-000
Account Number: 204 256 887Reference: Your Name or CompanySend a cheque or money order for a Non-Tax Deductible Donation to:GM-Free Australia Alliance Inc.
PO Box 298
MORLEY  Western Australia  6943Reference: Your Name or CompanyWe rely solely on the generosity of donations and volunteers to support our work. Every contribution you make counts and adds your voice to the power of our collective voice in Australia saying loud and clear:NO to GMOs!If your local GM-Free group, Facebook group or other allied group is not already a GMFAA member?– Please JOIN US NOW! Add your voice to our National Alliance!Join Herefruit and vegtablesTHANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!Please share and forward to like-minded family and friends.Please ShareWorking for a GM-Free AustraliaGM-Free Australia Alliance advocates for food and farming free fromGenetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)! We oppose the genetic engineering, editing, modification & manipulationof living organisms.Please DonateYours in True Food Freedom, GMFAA Committee of ManagementGM-Free Australia Alliance Inc. http://www.gmfreeaustralia.org.auinfo@gmfreeaustralia.org.au